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Dardanelles." 22 This Sir Edward Grey was unwilling to consent to, as long as “German officers and men remain in Turkish waters and are in control of [the] Turkish fleet." 23
The real reason, however, for closing the straits was, in the opinion of Mr. Morgenthau, that Germany had now decided to bring Turkey into the war and this was the first step toward the accomplishment of that purpose. At this time Turkey was no longer mistress of her own house but was receiving orders from her Teutonic masters. The Germans had strengthened the fortifications at the Dardanelles and Baron Wangenheim had boasted that he could close the straits in thirty minutes. The order for closing the Dardanelles was issued by a German general without consulting the Ottoman authorities. The Turkish cabinet had had nothing to do with the order given by the German general, if we are to credit a statement made by the minister of finance. “It's all a surprise to us,” he said to the American ambassador when the latter protested against the closing of the straits. Ambassador Morgenthau, on whose authority these statements are made, represents the Ottoman cabinet as reluctantly acquiescing in the bullying policy imposed upon it by Germany.24
22 B. C. (13), 98.
One serious cause of trouble between the Porte and the British Government was the preparations alleged to have been made by the former for attacking Egypt. The Ottoman Government contended that the military preparations in Syria were only a part of the general mobilization movement, “having no other object than to put Turkey on a footing to defend her neutrality.” The Porte also declared that Great Britain had aroused anxiety among the Turks as to the observance of her pledge regarding Egypt because she had declared that province in a state of war and had brought in troops from India.25 When Bedouins crossed (October 28) the Egyptian frontier, the grand vizier declared that he did not believe the report, but that “if it were true he would give immediate orders for [the] recall of [the] Bedouins." 26
25 B, C. (13), 118, 149.
26 Sir Edward Grey gave the following as a summary of the preparations for an attack on Egypt made by the Turkish Government:
The Mosul and Damascus Army Corps have, since their mobilization, been constantly sending troops south preparatory to an invasion of Egypt and the Suez Canal from Akaba and Gaza. A large body of Bedouin Arabs has been called out and armed to assist in this venture. Transport has been collected and roads have been prepared up to the frontier of Egypt. Mines have been dispatched to be laid in the Gulf of Akaba to protect the force from naval attack, and the notorious Sheikh Aziz Shawish, who has been so well known as a firebrand in raising Moslem feeling against Christians, has published and disseminated through Syria, and probably India, an inflammatory document urging Mohammedans to fight against Great Britain. Dr. Prüffer, who was so long
Notwithstanding these assurances, the Ottoman Government seemed anxious to recover its authority over Egypt. The minister of marine told the French ambassador (October 22) that the Turks felt about Egypt as the “French did about Alsace-Lorraine," and that while “they would do nothing officially,” yet they would shut their eyes to any agitation which was directed against English occupation of Egypt.” 27
While relations between Turkey and Great Britain were thus strained almost to the breaking point, a new cause of trouble arose between the Porte and the Russian Government. On the morning of October 29, “two or three Turkish torpedo boats raided Odessa harbor and sank” one Russian gunboat and damaged one French and three other Russian boats.28 The grand vizier contended that the Russian fleet had provoked the attack. This the Russian foreign office “categorically denied,” and the British ambassador said that he had proof that the orders for the attack had been given on October 27 and that these orders came “as the result of a conspiracy hatched between the German representatives in Constantinople and a engaged in intrigues in Cairo against the British occupation, and is now attached to the German Embassy in Constantinople, has been busily occupied in Syria trying to incite the people to take part in this conflict. B. C. (13), 166, 169, 173, 176.
27 B. C. (13), 164.
small and unscrupulous Turkish faction." 29
This statement of Sir Louis Mallet as to Germany's responsibility for the raid on Odessa is confirmed by important evidence furnished by the American ambassador. On the day of the attack (but before it was made) Talaat Pasha told Mr. Morgenthau that Turkey had decided to cast in her lot with Germany and admitted that fear was the motive that had prompted this decision. He believed that Germany would win the war and in that event Turkey would fare badly at her hands if she had declined to help win the victory. Besides, the alliance with Germany afforded an opportunity to wreak revenge on Russia. But both Talaat and the minister of marine declared that they knew nothing beforehand of the plan to attack Odessa and the latter put the whole responsibility on the German Admiral Souchon. Mr. Morgenthau adds that the ships which made the raid were commanded by German officers and manned almost entirely by German crews.30
On November 1 the Turkish chargé d'affaires at St. Petersburg read to M. Sazonof, the Russian foreign minister, a telegram from the grand vizier, which contained the following statement:
Convey to the Minister of Foreign Affairs our in29 R. O. B. (2), 97; B. C. (14), p. 5. 80 World's Work, June, 1918, 182-3.
finite regret that an act of hostility, provoked by the Russian fleet, has compromised friendly relations between the two countries.
You may assure the Imperial Russian Government that the Sublime Porte will not fail to give an appropriate solution to this question, and that it will adopt all means necessary to prevent the possible recurrence of similar events.
You may at once declare to the Minister of Foreign Affairs that we have decided not to allow the Imperial fleet further passage into the Black Sea, and that we hope that the Russian fleet, on its part, will not further come to cruise in our waters.
Sazonof's reply was, in part, as follows:
I replied to the Turkish Chargé d'Affaires that I categorically denied that the hostile initiative was taken by our fleet. Further, that I feared that it is now too late, anyhow, to make any sort of negotiations. If Turkey had announced the immediate expulsion of all German soldiers and sailors, it might then still have been possible to enter into negotiations looking to reparation for the treacherous attack upon our coast and the damages caused thereby. I added that the communication presented by him in no wise affected the situation that had arisen.31
It was now too late to negotiate, as M. Sazonof had observed, for the Entente ambassadors had asked for their passports and two days before had had their final interview with the grand vizier.32
31 R. O. B. (2), 97.